Sunday, July 10, 2016

Amazing in Santa Monica - 395 to Mammoth Lakes

I woke up super early this morning. I set my alarm for 5AM but I snoozed for about 15 minutes and got up at 5:15. I made some coffee and my aunt woke up and toasted me some crumpets. It was brisk and the sun was just rising as we left Santa Barbara for an 8:30AM class in Santa Monica.

I got back on CA-1 and there was no traffic this time. Lots of surfers were getting started, but no one else was around.

I got to the studio in plenty of time to walk River and set up his cage and my music. We had a full room for class, and I taught Amazing. They wanted me to fill an hour and a half, so I padded my playlist with songs from some of my past routines, including Woodstock and Orchestra. We got sweaty for sure.


After class some of us met at Starbucks and had a coffee klatch. It was after 11 before I hit the road.

My goal for tonight was Mammoth Lakes, so I got on CA-14 headed north through the Mojave Desert.

In a town called Chaffee, I passed a sign, just as I was starting to get hungry.

I ordered a burger in the drive thru and drove around and parked in the parking lot and ate in the hatchback of Babe with River lying nearby. I think at one point he licked my burger; he thought I was giving it to him, but I was just adjusting the paper bag I was using as a placemat. An honest mistake.  The burger wasn't all that good. Afterwards, we took a short was through the desert, but it was hot, sandy and windy so we kept it brief.


The next interesting thing we saw was as we passed through the area of Red Rock Canyon State Park. Compared to some of the red rock canyons I'd seen in the past week, this wasn't impressive, but objectively, it's still pretty darn cool.
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In a town called Bradys, we switched to (or actually CA-14 turns into) US-395.  This is a great highway that runs along the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in a brutal part of California. I passed very near Death Valley. From what I saw, US-395 passes through cute, small towns much like Route 66 does, and it also provides access to some cool sights like Mt Whitney, Bodie and Ancient Bristlecone Pines National Forest.

Bodie is further north than I'm going, and I saw it last year.

Bristlecone Pines was about 90 minutes out of my way. Had I gotten an earlier start I would have done it, but I was pressed for time. Mt. Whitney, also was a bit too far out of my way, but cool to see.

Continuing onward we saw Owens Lake. It looked big on the map, but sadly it was dry as a bone.

Then I stopped in a town called Lone Pine, which seems to be the major access point for Mt. Whitney. I took River deep into Lone Pine and fed him his dinner in a Pioneer Graveyard. No one here was buried later than 1909.


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Bishop is a fun town to stop in, I imagine. It was bustling with people and things to do, but I didn't stop.  Only at one point, I stopped just outside of Bishop to shoot another picture of Mount Whitney.
As I drove over the summit of Sherman Pass the topography changed.  Instead of the sagebrush and joshua trees, the desert and brush turned into rolling hills covered with trees and occasional boulders.
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This is when I started to climb.

I stopped at a vista point that overlooked Lake Crowey. It was nice to see a body of water in this desert. In the background are some high mountain peaks, including the White Mountain Range, which is over 14,000 at the highest peak and is the home to the Ancient Bristlecone Pines Nat'l Forest, containing the oldest living thing on the earth; a 4000 year old tree.
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I also learned about things called moraines. They are mounds of earth left by receding glaciers. The jumble of rock and sediment used to be part of the mountain, but ice, thousands of feet thick, ground away at the mountain and left this 'foothill' of debris. Because of the low sun and angle I was in, I couldn't get a clear picture of the moraine, but here it is on the other side of the road, in the foreground of the mountain.


And finally I arrived. I didn't know what to expect from Mammoth Lakes. As a kid I remember hearing my friends talking about going to "Mammoth" but I didn't ever make it. I suppose this is what they were talking about, but I hadn't put it together that Mammoth Lakes was this cool place my friends loved going.

It seems to be a ski resort town. About 8000 feet above sea level. And there seems be a big, hungry bear population as all of the trash cans have warning labels on them to keep them well locked up. I was also warned when I checked into Motel 6, not to leave any food in my car as a bear might break in.

I got here just as the sun was setting and had to eat dinner and do laundry, so I didn't get a chance to explore around here, but I might have to do that before I take off tomorrow.


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